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Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

Every time I want to stop, I think of the day Tom told me, as we walked to his truck after Writing in Action day, that he thought I was a fiction writer.

“You know, I used to write poetry.”

“Bullshit.”

“I did!” And he got into his truck and drove home.  I went back to the Writer’s House and told my mom I wasn’t going to Philadelphia the next semester.  That I had to stay to take adv. short story.

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So I’m starting to realize that I’m one of the few writers that (despite my bitiching) seriously considers themselves writers in all of the main genres (fiction, poetry, and non-fiction [ok, so I haven’t written non fiction recently, but I will]).  One thing that really bothers me is when people stand ground in their genre like it’s the best ever.  Bailey always says that fiction is the hardest to write, thus making it the best.  So far, I, personally, have found this to be true, but I also know these two things 1} I wrote poetry first (like…since I was 9) 2} Someone like Ryan Rickrode could never write poetry. Sorry, Ryan, but you know it as well as I do.
Nevertheless, an interesting battle came up in my editing and publishing class.  We were voting on which manuscripts we wanted to win a chapbook contest.  There would one prose chapbook and one poetry.  We had two issues to deal with:

1) Some of the work had been previously published in RiverCraft.  It was not being published this year, which we had already decided not to include, but had been published the year before.  Poetry didn’t have a problem publishing one tiny poem that had been published before but did have a problem with publishing a story that was a third of one of the prose manuscripts (I did not have a problem with this latter one, but my group did).

2) One of the manuscripts (the one that won) was very narrative while the other was more “traditionally” poetic–whatever that means.  The prose board was arguing for accesibility.  They said that the traditional manuscript was not accessible.  We said that they both were.

Now, here’s where I get to my quandry.  The prose board started arguing these two things:

1) Why should a poem (and not a large story) be allowed in just because it’s small?  Isn’t each poem supposed to be equal in weight to each story?

2) If “I” didn’t understand this poetry, why should anyone else who reads fiction?  Shouldn’t we want them to understand what’s going on?

So basically, this is where I realized later I should have argued.  Stories, especially long ones, take awhile to read.  Let’s say a half hour.  A poem–which according to the fiction board IS equal to a story–takes about 2 minutes to read.  Why won’t the fiction-minded take the same time to work with a poem that they will with a story?  Obviously this isn’t every fiction-minded person’s point of view, but that’s just how it came up in the class.

And like I said, I have NO idea why it was a problem to re-publish things anyway.  OKAY, so don’t publish something getting published this year in RiverCraft so as not to tread on their territory–we all agreed on that.  But chapbooks are often (if not mostly) comprised of many many single works that were previously published in literary journals.

Honestly, I was pleased with the results of the contest, but I was slightly disapointed because I felt like the one manuscript won for the wrong reason.

Oh well.

All my affections,

Liz

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So my workshop for the naked pictures story went really well.  Bailey called it a “breakthrough” story for me which essentially equalled “Hey Liz! Guess what? You CAN still write fiction!”

As a note, that piddley 12 page draft ended up being a solid 19 pages, which I was very proud of.  Now I just need to cut half of it and learn about how boners work in old men. My research was from a different generation.

The problem is that I still haven’t done a thing for my first story, the grandfather story. I started re-writing it today in third person (kill me) and have all of three sentences.

I wish it were warmer outside so I could enjoy the sun.

All my affections,

Liz

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So, feeling a little better about fiction, at least my naked pictures story.  I wrote a solid two pages of dialogue yesterday and plan on re-writing the first couple of pages today giving context to his daughter and shit.  You know, you know.  Okay, so maybe I’ve decided that the Grandfather story will have to be in third person and that I haven’t even started the re-write yet, but whatever.  At least I’m getting something done.

I met with Karla on Friday about the first super rough manuscript of Girls from the River School, the chapbook I’m hoping to self publish by the end of the semester.  Which is ambitious as shit, considering I also have to do this whole fiction portfolio thing as well as the poetry portfolio thing.  Day-yum.  However, Karla gave me some really good feedback about making my chapbook cohesive and told me that I should consider that my level of writing makes me a real poet that people outside of SU might want to read!  She didn’t use those words exactly, but I walked out of there thinking, “Oh my God, Karla Kelsey respects me as a writer.”

I then went straight to the library and checked out a bunch of books on typography and book making that I don’t have time to read. Neat!

All my affections,

 

Liz

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So I got my first response to “Mechanics,” and it was just as much a punch in the gut as workshop usually is, except it came from the beautiful Becky Shealy, so it was at least pretty.

FIRST–self-deprecating, whiny rant:

OH! That’s right! The reason none of my stories go past twelve pages is because I leave out character development!  I forgot about that shit.  I hate how I can put in a story about 12 times that a girl is a senior graduating from college drinking wine and still be asked, “how old is she?” Then again, that just shows that my characters are, I suppose, flat and don’t show themselves off as their real age–or don’t have the time to show off their age.

And, of course, when Tiffany pulls Tim into the drawing studio and gets naked, it’s rushed. I sort of knew it was rushed.  But at the same time, when the pregnant chick starts fucking the biological father of her baby in “Caviar,” I thought it was rushed!  I had no idea she wanted to sleep with the dude! But that wasn’t rushed!  Why wasn’t that rushed? I guess I should add re-reading that story to my list of things I don’t have time to do.

And, again, I’ve really written myself into a tightly knit story here.  If this were actually knit, it would probably be felted at this point. Okay, that’s an exaggeration.  But again–time period: 4 hours.  Where is there room for reflection?  There isn’t.  Maybe I should start the story earlier in the day.  Or end it later. Or something.  Blah blah blah. This is why I write poetry.

SECOND–introspective rant:

Okay, so I was never one to get emotionally attached to my stories (I remember one intro-peer getting so attached to a story about a father watching his daughter grow up that he just never really edited it.) but I’m realizing recently that I do get very emotionally attached to the amount of work I put into a story.  Then when I get back feed back, it’s hard for me to view it as “ways to improve,” and I instead see it as “ways you have failed at writing fiction.”  Mr. McQue let me view these issues in bulleted formed. Thanks, Steve.  Thanks for the bulleted points of how I have failed as a fiction writer.

Logically, I know this is all REALLY melodramatic and I just need to get over myself and write the goddamn story. But can it at least be agreed upon that there is someone amount of paradox (Oh, Great Paradox) that fiction is supposed to “deepen feeling” (which I do believe) and yet as a writer I’m supposed to be able to emotionally detach myself from it long enough to write multiple drafts?

Perhaps that’s the whole point of undergrad, to figure out how to view fiction so it doesn’t seem like some overwhelming, never-ending battle.  I’m working on it!

On a completely different note, I had a dream last night that Aaron, Beckley (I think), Nigel (maybe), and Nadia were at my Grandfather’s house.  He had a guillotine for some reason and then we beheaded Shakespeare.  In my dream, I saw Shakespeare’s fucking head get chopped off. EW.  Then I was trying to shake these little plush pokemon out of my flash drive and Nadia had two babies and one was named Dane.

End melodrama.

All my affections,

Liz

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But I did.  I started a blog.  Neat, right?  Maybe I’m doing this because I feel that my voice means something in writing community (my little, sophomore, youngest-one-I-met-at-AWP-was-myself, undergrad voice), maybe I’m avoiding reading my fiction (thus allowing me to avoid WRITING fiction), maybe I just want to be able to have all my friend’s blogs conveniently listed in a sidebar so I don’t have to type them in everyday, maybe I don’t feel like I can write about poetry in my Diaryland (ever heard of it?) which I’ve had since I was 13 and also documents every single romantic relationship that I’ve ever had, but whatever it is: here it is.

Oh, or maybe I just want to have an excuse to whine about how I’m questioning my existence as a writer because everyday I come out of Bailey’s workshop feeling like fiction is an endless battle similar to finding a cure for cancer (which is, in itself, a totally made up thing.  There will never be just one magic cure for cancer.  There are a lot of different kinds of cancer. There are a lot of different kinds of fiction.  All of them seem ominous as shit.).

Or maybe I’m just being trendy!  Blogs are so indie-rock, punk-pop, folk-sop, etc.

Now, to figure out how the hell to make this thing look cool.

All my affections,

Liz

P.S. I’m pretty sure I made up folk-sop

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